Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Just Wanted Them to Do Whatever They Needed to Do to Try to Save Our Baby; SURGEONS PERFORMED A LIFESAVING OP ON UNBORN CHILD IN WOMB

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Just Wanted Them to Do Whatever They Needed to Do to Try to Save Our Baby; SURGEONS PERFORMED A LIFESAVING OP ON UNBORN CHILD IN WOMB

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE KELLY Reporter mike.kelly@ncjmedia.co.uk @MIKEJKELLY1962

SURGEONS at a Newcastle hospital performed a lifesaving operation on an unborn baby in her mother's womb.

The revolutionary procedure was carried out on Ruth Elder, 32, at the Royal Victoria Infirmary after her child developed a rare fetal condition called 'hydrops fetalis.'.

This occurs when there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid around a baby's heart, lungs and inside the abdomen and it was spotted after Ruth, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, had an ultrasound scan. She and her husband Ross, 35, who are also parents to Henry, aged three, were then referred to the fetal medicine team at the RVI. Dr Therese Hannon, consultant in obstetrics and fetal mediby cine at the Newcastle Hospitals carried out an initial procedure to drain the fluid from the baby's chest.

Unfortunately the fluid re-accumulated and a more permanent solution was required. A decision was therefore made to perform the lifesaving in-utero surgery. Ruth said: "It all happened really quickly so there wasn't a great deal of time to worry about what the procedure would entail, I just wanted them to do whatever they needed to do to try to save our baby."

The procedure was carried out during the 29th week of Ruth's pregnancy by Professor Stephen Robson, honorary consultant obstetrician at the Newcastle Hospitals and Professor of Fetal Medicine at Newcastle University. Using ultrasound as a guide, he placed a chest shunt (a small plastic tube) through Ruth's abdomen, through the wall of the womb and into the baby's chest wall to relieve the fluid around the lungs.

We just got through without amazing RVI and North Prof Robson said: "We have a very small but highly specialised team here at the RVI and we would usually see around 10 to 15 cases of hydrops fetalis a year, however only one in 10 of these cases are amenable to fetal surgery.

"The baby was very poorly and while placing the shunt carries a risk it was the only option available. …

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